The UK has added four more African countries to its red list, following the six added last Thursday.
Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia were all transferred to the high-risk list effective from 4am on Sunday 28 November, meaning arrivals into the UK from those countries must pay to quarantine in a government-approved hotel for 10 days.
The changes were announced in a statement from the Department of Health, which said that two cases of the omicron coronavirus variant had been detected in the UK in Chelmsford and Nottingham.
Anyone who has returned from the four new red list countries within the past four days – even if they arrived before the Sunday deadline – must self-isolate at home and get a PCR test, said the Department.
This follows major changes to the formerly empty red list last Thursday, when the government announced that six countries would be added from Sunday morning: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
A temporary flight ban on the six countries was imposed over the weekend while hotel quarantine facilities were prepared.
Of the latest additions, health secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our world class genomic sequencing we have been made aware of two UK cases of the omicron variant. We have moved rapidly and the individuals are self-isolating while contact tracing is ongoing.
“We will do all we can to protect the UK public against this emerging threat and that is why we are surging testing capacity to the impacted communities and introducing travel restrictions on a further four countries: Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Angola. We will not hesitate to take further action if required.”
Yesterday, Mr Javid admitted that air passengers arriving into the UK from South Africa were not tested on arrival on Friday, despite fears they could be carrying the omicron variant.
Quizzed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Javid said there had been no testing but insisted: “It’s fair to say that, as the UK, we could not have acted more swiftly.”
But, asked how the passengers “got home from the airport”, he acknowledged: “They would have they would have got home in the normal way.”
Meanwhile 10 per cent of passengers from one flight from South Africa to the Netherlands tested positive for the new variant on arrival.